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Population genetics of the endangered Crowned Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus coronatus) in South America

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The Crowned Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus coronatus) is one of the rarest and most severely threatened birds of prey in the Neotropical region. We studied levels of neutral genetic diversity, population structure, and the demographic history of the species using 55 contemporary samples covering a large fraction of the species range, which were genotyped at 17 microsatellite loci. Our results indicated genetic homogeneity across the sampled regions, which may be explained by a high dispersal capability of Crowned Solitary Eagles resulting in high gene flow or relatively recent population expansion. Further demographic tests revealed that the species has experienced a recent demographic reduction, but inbreeding was not detected. The existing connectivity between geographically separated populations may have buffered the negative effects of the demographic bottleneck. Alternatively, the demographic reduction may be too recent to detect a genetic signature due to the long generation time of the species. Potential conservation strategies, including the possibility of translocations of individuals, are discussed.

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The authors are very grateful to all zoos and wildlife rescue centers that were kind enough to provide samples: Estación Experimental Horco Molle, Zoológico de Buenos Aires, Zoológico Bubalcó (Río Negro), Zoológico de San Rafael (Mendoza), and Zoológico de Mendoza as well as LEM–EBD allowing us to use their installations during lab work. The authors gratefully appreciate the collaboration of Claudina Solaro, Maximiliano Galmes, and Juan Ignacio Zanón-Martinez in sample collection and lab analysis. The authors are also very grateful to V. Friesen and five anonymous referees for several key suggestions that strongly improved a previous draft of the manuscript, as well as Sarah Young for English proofreading. This study was funded by The Peregrine Fund and the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID).

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Correspondence to David Canal.

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Canal, D., Roques, S., Negro, J.J. et al. Population genetics of the endangered Crowned Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus coronatus) in South America. Conserv Genet 18, 235–240 (2017).

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